Residents dedicated to making community better

Daily Journal

Johnson County is blessed with numerous people who make significant contributions with no thought of drawing attention to themselves. It’s what they do that is important to them.

During the past few months, we have seen several people recognized for their efforts, but they are just a sampling of what local folks do every day. Here are just a few examples:

Brian Lukich, who teaches calculus at Whiteland Community High School, was named Indiana Teacher of the Year through the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program. Whiteland is one of 30 high schools in the state that participate in the program.

The title goes to someone who not only teaches the students but goes beyond the basic requirements, including volunteering for leadership roles in the school and engaging students in the classroom. A program leader said Lukich teaches his students in his calculus class so well that the calculus teacher at the next level is challenged to find new materials for the students to learn.

Suzie Hedrick of Nineveh is a pediatric dialysis nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. A decade ago, she helped develop a four-day event called Kidney Camp to allow young patients to connect with others who are going through what they are.

Last month, the Indianapolis Colts and Anthem honored Hedrick as their “Anthem Angel,” which recognizes Hoosiers who help others.

Dale Barnett, a 1970 Whiteland Community High School graduate, has been named the national commander of the American Legion. He retired from active duty military service in 1996 but never stopped working on behalf of military members or veterans.

Barnett, who now lives in Douglasville, Georgia, went to Hoosier Boys State, a weeklong leadership program run by the American Legion, as a high school senior in 1969. His experience there changed his life and inspired him to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Barnett’s Johnson County roots run deep. He is a direct descendant of William and Nancy Kerlin Barnett. Nancy Barnett is buried in the “grave in the middle of the road” southeast of Franklin.

For the past 18 years, Betty Blakely has sat at the Johnson Memorial Hospital information desk, pointing out where people can find their loved ones’ room, their doctor’s office or a common space such as the cafeteria. She delivers newspapers to people who can’t get out of their rooms. People looking to purchase a card, inspirational item or balloons often see her at the gift shop.

Blakely, 91, estimates she has amassed 12,411 volunteer hours during her lifetime. She also has donated time at the Johnson County Public Library, the Franklin United Methodist Community and Johnson Memorial Hospital.

For her work, she received the state’s Golden Hoosier Award this year.

Barb Torrey at Franklin Community High School received the Carl Perkins Community Service Award from the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education. The award recognizes her efforts as a family and consumer science teacher.

Of particular note are her efforts to include a community service aspect to her classes. For instance, students don’t just learn to sew. They partner with the American Sewing Guild Indy to make Christmas stockings for Indiana troops. The stockings are filled by another organization then sent to the troops.

As we said, this is only a small sample of local folks who have been honored for their community contributions, and there countless others who continue to help out in a variety of ways with no thought to reward or recognition.

We salute all of those community leaders, both those honored and many more unsung. They all help make Johnson County a good place to live.

At issue

A countless number of residents work to make Johnson County a better place to live.

Our point

Several local folks have been singled out recently, and they represent only a fraction of those making solid contributions to the quality of life.